Private Managed Forest Lands (PMFL) are forest lands other than those located in a tree farm licence area, a woodlot licence area or a community forest agreement area. See the Private Managed Forest Land Act for details and definitions. The Act is administered by the Managed Forest Council, which presently consists of five people (a Chairperson, two “owner representatives” and two Government representatives).
The aim of the Act is to “encourage sustainable forest management & protect key environmental values on private managed forest land”. It contains general provisions for ensuring soil conservation, water quality, fish habitat, critical wildlife habitat, and reforestation after harvest. Some provisions are more detailed than others. Significantly, owners of PMFL lands are assured the right to harvest trees, unrestricted by local government bylaws.
Some have described this situation in unflattering ways, equating the situation with having industry-friendly “foxes guarding the hen coop”. I recommend the short unpublished historical note by Doug Harris of the UBC Faculty of Law, and Carrie Saxifrage’s lively and well-documented piece. Both contain valuable insights and are well worth reading.
Below is some of what I’ve learned about PMFL lands in the context of Lot 450.
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This shot was taken on my first day in the field, on 1 May 2015. It proved to be simultaneously misleading…and inspiring!
Private Managed Forest Lands (PMFL) constitute a small fraction of BC (about 2%)…but that’s a HUGE area (about 824,000 ha). They mostly stem from the original E&N land grants of 1983 and later. – Managed Forest Council
There are two substantial blocks of PMFL located within the Municipality of Powell River; specifically the “Valentine Mtn” block and the “East of Pole Line” block.
This false-color image from Landsat in 1997 indicates that things were pretty quiet on the Western Front. “False-color” band-combinations are useful in evaluating vegetation changes over time. This image was constructed using bands 4, 5 and 1 from Landsat 5.
The utility of false-color imaging is clearly shown here. New clearcuts appear as bright green “blobs” against the rich reddish-brown of healthy young forests and the clutter of urban development. Noteworthy is the large cut on the west flank of Valentine Mtn. MacMillan Bloedel was the landowner.
The 1999 harvest levels were modest – perhaps because of the change in landownership (from MacMillan Bloedel to Weyerhaeuser) in November of that year.
But things ramped up in 2000, with numerous small cutblocks made within PMFL lands…and in areas that would eventually inspire The Yellow Ribbon Project. Note the relatively small (>1 ha) size of the cutblocks typically used by the new landowner (Weyerhaeuser) on PMFL – to me it almost suggests that somebody was interested in practicing long-term forestry here.
Things stayed quiet for a few years, but in 2004 the new landowners (Weyerhaeuser) returned. This time the focus was on the steep slope overlooking historic Old Townsite.
2009 saw substantial harvest effort by Island Timberlands, in fact the largest on PMFL lands in recent decades.
I think the real take-home message from this image is that, given the clearcutting in 2015, and the time-frameless harvest plan announced by Island Timberlands…there’s not going to be a whole lot of forest left standing…even IF the landowners decide to maintain it as forest land.
…and I think I wasn’t the only one who noticed – never, ever try to hide from the raven…